Ford will create new brand to make electric cars in China

By Charles Riley

LONDON (CNNMoney) — Ford wants to crack the world’s largest auto market with fully electric vehicles sold under a new brand.

The company announced plans on Tuesday to form a new joint venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., a Chinese brand that specializes in all-electric vehicles.

Ford and Zotye are exploring a 50:50 partnership to produce a line of electric vehicles. Ford said the cars would be sold under a new brand, but did not offer additional details.

The move coincides with a major push for more electric cars by the Chinese government, which is trying to reduce pollution in major cities. Beijing is offering incentives to encourage the sale of cleaner vehicles.

China already accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency. Zotye, which does not produce gas or diesel cars, sold more than 16,000 electric vehicles through July this year — a 56% increase from the same period in 2016.

Bill Russo, managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Company, said Ford is the first global automaker to partner with a local firm that exclusively produces electric cars.

“Multinationals have been playing a bit of wait and see in China,” he said. “Now, Ford is convinced they need to be in the game.”

But Ford is not the only major international automaker trying to increase electric vehicle sales in China.

Earlier this month, General Motors started selling a tiny electric car in China that costs about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives.

The vehicle — the Baojun E100 — is made in China by a joint venture between GM and China’s SAIC and Wuling Motors.

In June, Volkswagen finalized a joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC Motor) to produce electric vehicles.

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